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Ecclesiastes 2 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Vanity of Self-Indulgence

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.[a] I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines,[b] the delight of the sons of man.

So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

The Vanity of Living Wisely

12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. 14 The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16 For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.

The Vanity of Toil

18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment[c] in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him[d] who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.


  1. Ecclesiastes 2:1 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also verses 11, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26 (see note on 1:2)
  2. Ecclesiastes 2:8 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
  3. Ecclesiastes 2:24 Or and make his soul see good
  4. Ecclesiastes 2:25 Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts apart from me
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Kohelet 2 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)

I said in mine lev, Come now, I will test thee with simchah, therefore enjoy tov; and, hinei, this also is hevel.

I said of laughter, It is mad; and of simchah, What doeth it accomplish?

I searched in mine lev to draw my basar on with yayin, my mind guiding me with chochmah; and to lay hold on sichlut (folly), till I might see what was tov for bnei haAdam, which they should do under Shomayim all the few days of their life.

I undertook me great works; I built me batim (houses); I planted me kramim (vineyards);

I made me ganot (gardens) and parks, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them;

I made me reservoirs of mayim, to water therewith the forest of trees tzomeiach (sprouting up);

I bought me avadim and shfakhot, and had bnei bayit (avadim born in my bais); also I had great possessions of herds and tzon more than all that were in Yerushalayim before me;

I amassed for me also kesef and zahav, and the treasure of melachim and of the provinces; I acquired for me men singers and women singers, and the delights of bnei haAdam, musical instruments of all kinds.

So I was great, and excelled more than all that were before me in Yerushalayim; also my chochmah remained with me.

10 And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my lev from any simchah; for my lev rejoiced in all my amal (labor); and this was my chelek (portion) for all my amal.

11 Then I looked on kol ma’asim that my hands had wrought, and on the amal that I had labored to do; and, hinei, all was hevel and chasing after ruach, and there was no profit under the shemesh.

12 And I turned myself to consider chochmah, and holelot, and sichlut; for what can the adam do who cometh after HaMelech? Even that which hath been done already.

13 Then I saw that chochmah excelleth sichlut, as far as ohr excelleth choshech.

14 The chacham (wise man) hath eyes in his rosh; but the kesil (fool) walketh in choshech; but I myself perceived also that the same mikreh (fortune) happeneth to them all.

15 Then said I in my lev, As the mikreh befalls the kesil, so also will the same mikreh befall me; and wherein have I then been of more chochmah? Then I said in my lev, This also is hevel.

16 For no zichron (remembrance) of the chacham—-no less the kesil—remains l’olam; seeing that in hayamim haba’im (the days to come) all shall be forgotten. How can the chacham die just like the kesil?

17 Therefore I hated HaChayyim (Life); because the ma’aseh that is wrought under the shemesh is grievous unto me; for all is hevel and chasing after ruach.

18 Yea, I hated all my amal for which I had toiled under the shemesh; because I must leave it unto the adam that shall occupy my place after me.

19 And who hath da’as whether he shall be a chacham or a kesil? Nevertheless shall he have shlitah (control, authority) over all my amal for which I have toiled, and have poured out my chochmah under the shemesh. This also is hevel.

20 Therefore I turned aside to give up my lev to despair over all the wearisome amal with which I toiled under the shemesh.

21 For there is an adam whose amal is with chochmah, and da’as, and kishron (skill); yet to an adam that hath not worked for it he must leave it for his chelek. This also is hevel and a ra’ah rabbah.

22 For what hath adam for all his amal, and for all the striving of his lev, wherein he hath labored under the shemesh?

23 For all his yamim are machovim (sorrows), and his travail ka’as (grief, vexation); yea, his lev taketh not rest balailah. This also is hevel.

24 There is nothing better for adam, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his nefesh find satisfaction in his amal. Also this I saw; even this was from the Yad HaElohim.

25 For who can eat, or who can find enjoyment without Hashem?

26 For to the adam that is pleasing in His sight, Hashem gives chochmah, and da’as, and simchah; but to the choteh (sinner) Hashem giveth travail; Hashem giveth the work of gathering and storing up, that Hashem may give to him that pleases HaElohim. This also is hevel and chasing after ruach.

Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)

Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2008, 2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International

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